Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he would drill the importance of the North London derby into the heads of his players ahead of Sunday’s home Premier League game against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, describing it as the “most special game of the season”.
Spurs have won only once on their last 28 league trips to Arsenal and come into the match on the back of two 3-0 losses in the league to London sides Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
But Arteta said form would not be a factor when the match kicks off, especially with fans back in the stands.
“They (Arsenal’s players) do (know the importance) and I will make sure they understand what it means. The history between the two teams and where it came from and what it means emotionally to our supporters,” Arteta told reporters on Friday.
“You have to play that game with a slightly different skin because there is a little bit more at stake.”
Arsenal have recovered to win their last three matches in all competitions after losing their first three league games. “I think there are certain levels of confidence on a winning streak for a big match. We are playing at home, we will have our people right behind us and they will create an incredible climate that you have to make the most of,” added Arteta.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the derby’s all-time top scorer with 11 goals but last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner, who failed to secure a move away from Spurs in the transfer window, has yet to open his account in the league.
However, Arteta said they would still be cautious, with the England striker often dropping deep to help his side attack.
“I think he’s played in that role for a while and when you look at the numbers, at the assists that he’s able to create and the goals that he’s scoring, it’s always on the top of the table. I don’t think that has changed a lot,” Arteta said.
“We have to show them (the Arsenal defenders) the threats and qualities and where they (Spurs) will hurt us and try to prevent that from happening. We know he (Kane) is a big threat and a lot of things come from his contribution in attack.”